Kiwis first to explore new Galaxy

22:30, Apr 28 2013

Samsung's long-awaited Galaxy S4 was released in New Zealand today.

Stefan Lecchi, Samsung's head of telecommunications, said the company was aiming the new Android-based smartphone at technology enthusiasts, business professionals and the social-media tribe.

"The idea for the Galaxy S4 is that it's a life companion," he said.

The handset is almost the same size as its predecessor, the Galaxy S3, although it is a few millimetres thinner.

New Zealand will get a 4G-capable version of the S4, with a 1.9-gigahertz quad-core processor, although a 1.6GHz model will be available in some parts of the world.

Its full high-definition Super AMOLED (active-matric organic light emitting diode) screen, however, is five inches compared to the 4.8-inch S3.


Battery capacity, too, is better, offering 20 per cent more than the previous model.

It has a 2-megapixel forward-facing camera and a 13-megapixel rear-facing camera.

It comes packed with a series of new applications developed by Samsung.

Air View is one of the greatest innovations on this phone.

Hover your fingers above the screen to preview emails, texts and pictures without touching the screen, which is handy when you have mucky hands.

The S4's browser allows you to scroll web pages with your eyes by using the front-facing camera to track your eyeball movement.

It's an excellent feature, but we couldn't get it to work in Chrome.

Smart Pause, built into the video app, stops videos from playing when you look away from the handset.

The new camera app includes the Dual Shot function shoots the main picture with the 13-megapixel lens and includes the photographer in a small inset of varying shapes.

"You think about those hundreds of photos that always leaves the shooter behind," Lecchi said.

Another new setting, Sound FX Shot, allows you to record a few seconds of sound, which embeds itself in the jpg file. At the moment, the sound will play only on the phone, but it's just a matter of time before someone develops software that will play the clip when you open the picture on a PC.

Drama Shot automatically combines several shots in an action sequence, like a skateboarder sailing through the air, into one photograph.

When you've finished, you can use Story Album to create a collage of your pictures, which you can save as a PDF that can be emailed.

Group Play is ideal for the social-media junkie, allowing users to share music, photos and other files over Bluetooth.

S Translator is an impressive app that translates voice or text from one language to another. I tried simple phrases in French, German, Spanish, Mandarin and Malay and it rendered them in perfect English each time.

It wasn't quite so accurate in the S Health application which monitors all the variables to do with diet and exercise. It rendered the spoken word "oatmeal", however, as "boobs Hotmail", so perhaps type your menu in.

Telecom has announced the Samsung Galaxy S4 will sell for $1149, while no other operators have released prices yet.